September 20, 2009
You know plenty about Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. But what about the 13 who preceded him? There's an easy way to learn about them all at Himalayan Art Resource's Dalai Lama Incarnation Lineage page.
Gendun Druba (1543-1588) was the first, but my personal favorite is Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama, who lived as a layman and is known best for his songs and poetry (you can read a great article by Rick Fields about him here). It was his predecessor, the "Great 5th" Dalai Lama, Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso (1391-1474), who first exercised political power over the Tibetan people, according to Tenzin Dharlo at Himalayan Art Resource:
[The 5th Dalai Lama] united the three provinces of Kham, Amdo and Utsang under his leadership and government (Ganden Podrang). The Great Fifth was both a scholar and statesman. During his time the relationship between Tibet and its neighbors, India, China and Mongolia flourished. Another achievement by Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, and his regent Desi Sanggye Gyatso, was the construction of the Potala Palace. As the principal home of the Dalai Lamas and the largest structure in Tibet, the Potala Palace stands today as the icon of Tibet.
Here's more on the lineage of the Dalai Lama.
And by the way: HAR's blog will keep you up-to-date on the website's offerings, which seem to grow in scope every day. Students of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, for instance, might want to check out his great-grandfather's page:
Choggyur Lingpa was a Terton, treasure revealer, of the 19th century and descended from the hereditary Baram Kagyu line. He was also a contemporary and friend to both Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. He discovered many 'termas' that are still popular within the Kagyu and Nyingma Traditions today.
Jeff Watt, director of Himalayan Art Resource, points us to a painting of Milarepa signed on the back by Choggyur Lingpa.